Hillary Clinton's senior campaign strategist on Sunday defended as true private remarks made by the senator in which she blamed her electoral defeats on a Democratic activist base with whom she has disagreed.
Geoff Garin, who took over the reigns of the campaign several weeks ago from Mark Penn, sought to diffuse anger and concern over Clinton's comments -- which were reported by The Huffington Post -- by casting them as nothing more than legitimate political analysis.
"The truth is that we agree with MoveOn [the Democrat group Clinton singled out] on lots of issues, disagree with them on some," said Garin. "One of them is they've endorsed Senator Obama and they have been very effective in these caucuses."
Asked to specify exactly which issues Clinton and Moveon had disagreements, Garin demurred, saying simply it was a "particular set of foreign policy issues," not "everything." Pressed to discuss when, as Clinton claimed, MoveOn had "flooded" caucuses and "intimidated" voters into supporting Obama, he attempted to sidestep the question.
"I don't want to... I'm here for two weeks now, so this comment was made in, I believe, at the beginning of March," he said. "But, look, the truth is Senator Clinton, as she said in that other clip, respects the right of MoveOn to be involved in this process, and respects the role that activists play in our party. I think the larger point is that when you move from the caucuses to the primaries where participation is much, much greater, she has done extremely well."
Garin's appearance on Meet The Press came two days after the Huffington Post reported on Clinton's remarks, which were made at a small closed-door fundraiser after Super Tuesday.
"Moveon.org endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said at the meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them."
On Saturday, the Clinton campaign was first asked to address the issue. During a conference call with reporters, the senator's chief spokesman Howard Wolfson noted that he too was a member of MoveOn, and that any differences between Clinton and the progressive group would be resolved should she end up the Democratic nominee.
"I am a member of MoveOn... I participated in the Moveon primary where they endorsed Sen. Obama. I obviously voted for Sen. Clinton... Sen. Clinton agrees with MoveOn on some issues she disagrees on other issues," he said. "I assume and believe [that if] Sen. Clinton [is the nominee], that we will be able to unite the party behind us and go forward with unity and strength in the general election....we believe that progressive organizations like MoveOn do and can and will play a critical part in that process..."